The Fellowship of the Worms: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

December 16, 2013 Uncategorized 14

Greetings Fellowship Bookworms,

smarty-mcwordypants-199x300Yes, it’s still the holiday season, and yes, it probably would have been a good idea just to let December ride as far as the Fellowship goes. Unfortunately, I lack vision. At least I had the good sense to pick a tasty morsel of a book this round! Today we will be discussing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. 

WARNING: We will be discussing the WHOLE book. This will no doubt include SPOILERS. If you did not read the book and would like to participate, pick up a copy of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and give it a read. This post will be here waiting for you when you finish. Now that the particulars are out of the way, I’ll remind you of the premise here. I’ll pose questions in bold and answer them in regular type.  If you don’t want your opinions influenced by my rantings, stick to the bold first. Feel free to answer them in the comments, or if you’re so inclined, on your own blog. A linky list will be provided at the end of this post for anybody who has reviewed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on their own blog. Don’t be shy, please link up!

1. Did y’all enjoy the epistolary format of this novel? Being composed entirely of letters offers a different perspective. What did you like about it? What didn’t you like? 

Sigh. Letter writing is such a lost art, isn’t it? The patience involved in such an endeavor boggles my digital age mind. I rather enjoyed the insertion of telegrams when really urgent messages needed to be conveyed. Perhaps that’s why shouty capitals seem so shouty? IMPORTANT TELEGRAM! THEFT OF OSCAR WILDE LETTERS AT THE HAND OF DEVIOUS SECRETARY IMMINENT. I love a good epistolary novel. Well done, I say.

2. Alright kids, ‘fess up. Who didn’t know that there were islands hanging out in the English Channel that fell to Nazi Occupation in WWII? 

Sheepishly raising my hand… So geography isn’t my strong suit, see? And, well, though I’d heard of Guernsey and Jersey (because COWS) I never realized they were islands. Given the fact that I didn’t even channel islands were a thing before picking up this book , I certainly had no clue they fell to German occupation. Everything I’ve ever heard about England during the war was about fortitude and stubbornly hiding in tube tunnels to avoid being blown to bits by constant air raids. I never thought about the poor folks on the islands, because, again, I didn’t know there WERE islands. Sigh. I saw an article a while back where English people tried to name the US states on a map… It makes me feel a little better about my own shortcomings. Check it out HERE.

3. Numerous Guernsey residents share their memories of the occupation with Juliet. Were there any details thatgurnsey surprised you? 

I haven’t really read a whole lot about occupied territories… The last I read about it was in The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes, though that was about France during WWI. I liked that some of the Germans were given some depth, particularly the random German soldiers nonchalantly kicking potatoes off a truck for the starving English children. Of course, the horrors were never far behind, what with the mini concentration camp they had on Guernsey. The stories are all tales I’ve heard before from different parts of the world during the war, and yet, they never cease to surprise me: the depths of human depravity, the glimmers of human compassion.

4. That Elizabeth, am I right?! What do her actions throughout the occupation reveal about her character and approach to life? 

Well, Elizabeth was a feisty one, wasn’t she? Grace under pressure, coming up with a literary society as a cover story for a contraband pork dinner. If she hadn’t such a kind heart, she would have made an excellent con artist. She wasn’t about to listen to convention. Her heart told her to take up with the hot, kind, conscientious objecting Nazi, and she went and had his baby. She reached her absolute breaking point by witnessing one cruelty too many. Vibrant, sassy, and willing to help others at great personal risk. She was a good egg, that Elizabeth.

5. Who was your favorite member of the society? 

This is a tough question for me to answer, because I loved so many of them. I liked Dawsey a lot, but I’m taking him out of the running for being the romantic lead. I think my favorite is a tie between Isola and John Booker. Isola and her phrenology, tonics, and pet parrot? John Booker and his posing as his employer, wine theft, and stubborn devotion to Seneca? Yeah. I like the lovable weirdos best.

What did you think, Bookworms? Does anybody want to try baking a potato peel pie? (Just kidding, that sounded pretty gross. Let’s rejoice in the fact that we have no food shortages or rationing!) Please link up below if you have answered any of these questions on your own blog, or have written a review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society anywhere, ever basically. Don’t be shy!

[inlinkz_linkup id=351782]

14 Responses to “The Fellowship of the Worms: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”

  1. Jan

    Oooh, I was so excited when I saw you’d read that book – only one person I know has and I absolutely LOVE this book!! I wasn’t too keen on the letter format at first but it totally worked and it’s a sign of how good the writing was that even though it was all letters and we never actually ‘met’ Elizabeth, you still got a really clear sense of who she was. I was so happy with how it ended. And I have to admit even though I am British, I couldn’t have told you the islands were occupied during WW2! Fascinating stuff!

    • Words For Worms

      Jan, you make me feel SO MUCH BETTER about not knowing about the Channel islands being occupied. I really loved this book, it makes me happy to know others liked it too!

  2. Charleen

    I loved this book. The epistolary format was… if not a turn-off, at least something that had to be overcome, for me. I was biased against it from the start, for whatever reason. But oh, was it overcome. I think it helped that right off the bat, it was about people who were excited about books.

    And I absolutely love the quote: “Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.” How delightful, indeed!

    Not only did I not know about the islands being under German occupation, but I hadn’t read the description before reading this book, so I didn’t even know going into it. I discovered it right along with Juliet (well, not that she didn’t know, but seemed like sort of distant knowledge for her).

    Some of those maps were pretty funny, but I’d probably do just as bad with a map of Europe, let alone a map of any particular country IN Europe (or anywhere else…)

    I loved the nervousness and excitement when Juliet finally goes to Guernsey. It reminded me of when bloggers meet, and then write about it. The story’s always the same: they get along SO WELL online, what if it doesn’t translate to real life? And then it does, and it isn’t awkward at all, and everyone has a wonderful time.

    (Except I’m still convinced I’d be the exception to that. There’s nothing about me that isn’t awkward.)

    Oh, and the proposal at the end… so sweet! “I’m in love with you, so I just thought I’d ask.”

    • Words For Worms

      Have I ever mentioned how much I love that you always answer my crazy book club questions? Because I love it so much! The proposal! Oh man, I grinned so hard my face hurt.

  3. Claudia

    I was so happy to see you read this book. I read it this summer and LOVED it! I don’t know anyone else who has read it. I also had no idea about the islands being occupied by Germany but it made me go look it up as soon as I saw it in the book. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Sarah Says Read

    I really, really enjoyed this book when I read it. It’s epistolary perfection.

    And I had NO clue about Guernsey or occupies islands or any of that either. I’m bad at geography, and not much better at history, soooo….

    And I think a potato peel pie might be good? If you use a crap ton of butter and brown sugar, anything can taste delicious!

    • Words For Worms

      Maybe if you made it with butter and brown sugar, potato peel pie wouldn’t suck, but all they had were beets for sweetness, and I HATE BEETS. OMG, I hate beets so freaking much.

  5. PinotNinja

    My book club read this book a few years ago and it was one of the few books that we universally loved. The letters was the perfect way to tell the story, because it really let the different voices shine through. I also loved the underlying message about the strength and perseverance of people and about how sometimes it is the simplest things that keep us going.

  6. Katie @ Doing Dewey

    I haven’t read this book yet, so I’m just skimming your discussion, but it sounds like a fun read-a-long. Hopefully I’ll be able to join in next time you run one 🙂

  7. Kris

    I have recently lost my child and this book made me believe in our human capacity to love, care and overcome loss and tragedy. I cried at so many of the stories recited by the villagers yet was uplifted by others. *Isola could easily become my best friend! *I was voting against Mark from the beginning ( he reminded me of my EX husband).
    This book should be on audio with each character having a specific actor so as to get to know them in a personal way. What a way to spend your commute! I loved this uplifting book and it has inspired me to read most of the books mentioned.

    • wordsfor

      I’m so sorry for your loss! I’m glad you were able to find some solace in this book.

Talk to me, Bookworms!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.